Tears! tears! tears!
In the night, in solitude, tears,
On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck’d in by the sand,
Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate,
Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head;
O who is that ghost?
– Walt Whitmam, Tears
No one cared about the virmen. After all, virmen disappearing is something people around Halfhill cherish. The less virmen, the more carrots. Still, some people – mostly the Mudclaws – did from time to time raise the subject. They were always careful about their words of course. Always a glance over the shoulder if The Dead One was at the inn.
“I don’t know about you,” one of the Mudclaws usually started, “but don’t it strike you odd we got plenty of virmen but … the Newcomer … doesn’t?”
“Oh, but she’s a great farmer,” Yoon would pipe up – and then swiftly be silenced by one of those Mudclaw stares until he conceeded that, well, “maybe she is a bit … kinky.”
They didn’t mind her carrots though.
On certain nights in Halfhill people found it hard to get some shuteye. There was a … sound … a wail. Not exactly a scream. Not exactly a cry. Something between a scream of anguish and a joyous outburst. Sometimes followed by a harsh laughing sound, something akin to “mmmmhmmmm! Haaaa haaaaa!”. It was not exactly upsetting. But it did keep children awake.
People started to change. At first the gentle words to kids like Noomi and Andi. That kind of wording that’s not exactly a warning or a threat but not a joke.
“Strangers, even if they know you, might not always be gentle folk like us, you know.”
People stopped coming by. People stopped saying hi. What once were appreciated – such as the gibbeted virmen around her farm – became disgusting. Abominable. Some elder folks recalled stories of how the Mogu used to behave. Now, they were all agreed on that Zavannah was a really good farmer, a sturdy oak in times of trouble (such when the Kor’Kron came by; they left rather quickly when a Death Knight equipped with a pitchfork led the minutemen that had scrambled for defense). But still …
“She’s not one of us,” the Mudclaws would say late at night when she finally left the inn, usually after a full barrel of plum wine. “No one should drink that much and not, you know … ”
“Maybe we should form a Tillers meeting?” Yoon would say – and then shut his mouth after one of those Mudclaw stares.
“And what of her farmhand, mmm?” One of the Fellreeds would say.
“Oh, her farmhand … “
Eventually the call to arms also reached Halfhill. no one exactly cared about either the Zandalari or even Garrosh Hellscream. The failed Kor’kron raid, hunting for supplies, had been the closest they’ve ever come to a war that, well, wasn’t a pandarian war. But once in a while some young pandaren grabbed his backpack and went “away”. That’s what folks called it; “Ol’ Blackpaws youn’un has went away”.
Sometimes they came back. Sometimes not. Pandaren mentality is a fantastic thing; everyone knew what had happened to those that never returned, but no one said anything. If you don’t stare Death in the eyes but keep your eyes to the ground and your hands busy you won’t get noticed. Generations of slaves to the mogu – it’s hard to get rid of something like that.
Maybe that was the problem. Death was running a farm. A good farm too. Zavannahs carrots was the talk of the town (until she started resurrecting virghouls to keep the virmen out of the fields). It’s hard to not stare Death in the eyes when Death is trying to get a good price on another batch of carrots. Isn’t it so, mr Ironpaw?
Zavannah heard the call to arms as well. In fact, she heard it not from an official source but from a gnome. It was quite a debacle.
Just after harvest of another field of carrots – half of them were eaten by Geist Alpha, who seemed to have gotten into her head that carrots was good for your skin – Zavannah made a business trip to The Wall. That’s what people in Halfhill call it; the Alliance tower on the Great Wall, Lion’s Redoubt, as it’s called. It’s a meeting place not only for mercenaries but also for tradesmen. Zavannah was intent on selling carrots (“buff food” as some of the mercs, usually hunters, call it). She knew it could be a rough-and-tumble place so she dug out some old armor, equipped it and went on her way.
Somehow it felt good … busying herself with crude jokes and laughter with proffesional soldiers. She even met some old friends, death knights, people who had yet to find the peace she had found. While she was conducting her business she heard alarming news. Orgrimmar was under siege, Garrosh had fallen – but the Horde still kept a stranglehold on Alterac Valley.
Then the gnome made a rude remark. The last thing he saw before the healers took him away was … well.
His pain. His despair … as his weapons did no harm, as she kept on swinging, as she kept on screaming … letting years of anguish out on a unsuspecting gnome who really just had said “If I stand on a stool I can give you a standing O, babe”. Despair – so delicious. Yet – so disastrous.
She fled. She jumped down the wall, killed herself (or so she thought). A few hours later she came to; you can’t kill what’s allready dead. For some time there was terror afoot in the Dread Wastes. The Klaxxi, caught up in a terrible civil war after the Paragons had deserted them, didn’t stand a chance. Zavannah was a storm of pain … and then, one night, she couldn’t remember how she got there, she found herself on a deserted beach.
All the things she had worked so hard to keep locked away … The anger, the hate, the need to kill to know she was alive … All the anguish that the Lich King once instilled in her – it all came back. Flip a switch and ypu turn the killing machine on again.
Zavannah left the farm to Geist. Perhaps she can make something out of it, perhaps even gain acceptance. The hunger – the never ending famine in her soul – has gripped her, yet again. The death screams of orcs and blood elves on the Fields of Strife in Alterac Valley keeps her going. Forward, ever forward. Yet.
Whenever the battle is over, she stands there, terrible, Death incarnate. She stands there, face covered by a monstrous helmet. She stands there. Bloodsoaked, trembling with exhaustion and exhilaration pounding through her muscles and veins. She stands there, alone, in the cold of Alterac Valley …
And miss her farm.